By Dr. Bassam Abu Abdullah
We need not cite the explicit statements recently made by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to the Washington Post to know what is already known.
In these statements, he publicly asserted that the Saudi-funded spread of Wahhabism began as a result of Western countries asking Riyadh to help counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War era.Speaking to the paper, bin Salman said that Saudi Arabia’s Western allies urged the country to invest in mosques and madrassas overseas during the Cold War, in an effort to prevent what he termed “encroachment in Muslim countries by the Soviet Union”, claiming that successive Saudi governments have now lost track and are allegedly trying now to get it all back. He admitted however that funding is still going on. However, he tried to deflect blame by claiming that such funding was coming now from “foundations” and not from the government !! In this same interview, he described Islam as ‘rational and simple” but there some people who are trying to “hijack it”.
He stopped short of identifying those who have hijacked it, would not say for what objective they tried to do so and why this has been allowed to happen throughout the dynastic rule of his fathers, forefathers and next of kin.
This open confession by Bin Salman is in fact the first publicly made admission that Wahhabism is an imputation, as the Lebanese Al-Akhbarnewspaper has put it. In other words, Wahhabism is un-Islamic and it has nothing to do with the religion of Islam preached by the Prophet Mohamad. Wahhabism is rather a criminal invention devised to allow for the domination of others and for subjugating them by means of killing and blood-shed.
They ex-communicate those who do not fully comply with their own teachings and deem them as “kafir”/ infidel. This is their tactic to force others into submission to their dictate. It has nothing to do with the true values or core ethics of Islam, the message of which is summed up by the saying (Hadeeth) attributed to the Prophet: “I have been sent to perfect the noble moral values”.
In an article to Huffington Post, Alastair Crooke says that no one would understand what ISIS is unless he or she learns about the history of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia. Western dependency on Saudi Arabia dates back to the first meeting held by King Abdul Aziz al Saud with the US President Franklin Roosevelt on board the USS Quincy warship shortly after the Yalta conference in the 1940s of last century, he said, noting that this “marriage of convenience” is still maintained till the present day. The Saudis have collaborated with the West in almost all their schemes aimed at countering socialism, Ba’athism, Nasserism, as well as the Soviet Union, he said, noting that countering Iran has been lately added to this long list of adversaries. This was done by creating, recruiting, and subsidizing Takfiri movements mainly, though not exclusively, to be used as tools to counter the countries and the governments that the US and West do not like.
There are some other internal considerations for this. These vassal Takfiri organizations would also be used to vent the brewing anger against the Al-Saudi Kingdom by distracting attentions away from them and shifting the blame onto some other “external” issues.
This aspect has been explained by our friend Fouad Ibrahim in his book: “The Future of Saudi Arabia: The Discourse, the Crown and the Alliances”. In this book, he opined that the call for “Jihad” in Afghanistan in the 1980s of last century was not on the agenda of Saudi politicians and religious clerics primarily. Only when some serious internal challenges have emerged had they thought of complying with these calls. The public challenge to their legitimacy, the religious identity, and the probability of facing some renewed popular uprisings as the ones which took place in the Holy Shrine of Mecca (al-Haram al-Sharif) on November 20, 1979 or as the popular uprising in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia besides the rise of the Iranian Islamic Revolution as a model of Islamic resistance to the US-Zionist project in the region, all of this has prompted them to find a way to vent the brewing dissent and synergy of the hundreds of young people and keeping the public within the Kingdom busy with some external affairs away from the real issues at stake at home.
All of this, as Bin Salman himself admitted, has been done in full coordination with and for the interest of Washington.
The same script has been replayed in Iraq following the fall of Baghdad in 2003. The banner under which they mobilized their recruits this time was “the support for the Sunna”. Curiously enough, this has been done although it was Saudi Arabia who provided all necessary facilities to Washington to overthrow Saddam Hussein between March 20 and April 9 of 2003.
They did the same thing in Syria too. Al Saud fanned the flames of insinuation, issued “religious” edicts (Fatwas) and facilitated the flow of thousands of recruited young men to what they termed as “Jihad in Syria”. In all of this, they used sectarian, and sub-dividing confessional insinuations to steer the brewing anger and dissent within Saudi Arabia and direct it against Syria by maintaining an omnipresence preoccupation with the “Syrian cause” as an alibi to target the Syrian ruling system and the Syrian alliances.
In Syria, Al Saud, together with Israel and the US, are being countered by Iran, Hizbollah and Washington’s arc rivals, namely Russia and China. In his famous article “the Redirection”, SeymourHershtermed this juxtaposition as “the Strategic Embrace”.
The Syrians can never forget the Fatwa (religious edict) issued on April 22, 2011 by Sheikh Saleh al-Lehadan in the early days of the protests. Back then, he said that it would be “alright” to kill the third of the Syrian people so that the remaining two thirds may enjoy a well-off life. Back then, he praised and wished success for what he termed “those who are fighting Jihad against the tyrantsin Syria”, saying that anyone who might die in this fight would be considered as “Shaheed” (martyr) because, according to him, he would be dying for the sake of Allah and for helping the word of Allah to prevail !!!.
Fouad Ibrahim says that the appointment of Bandar Bin Sultan as Chief of the Saudi Intelligence on July 11, 2012, was made following a visit he made together with David Petraeus just two days earlier to King Abdullah in Jeddah on July 9, 2012, was in fact meant to put into motion an already devised plan to move the al-Qaeda fighters into Syria to help overthrow the Syrian state. This was a goal cherished by the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and a bunch of their associates and vassals. With such a plan, they wanted to drain dry the capabilities of the Syrian Arab Army by engaging it with an open-ended long warfare until they eventually manage to topple President Bashar al-Assad and to contain the threat posed by the Islamists to autocratic rulers in the Gulf as they showed some signs of willingness to get along with the Americans and agreed to engage with the democratic game. By that time, the Syrian dossier has been taken from the Qataris and handed over to Saudi Arabia, at the US orders.
The admission by Bin Salman that the Wahhabism was in fact the poisoned dagger the US uses against all rivals, adversaries and enemies is not new at all. It is not a new discovery nor a media scoop. It is only an attempt to re-market the Al Saud Kingdom in a new packaging and under a new slogan, as the stinky smell of the Wahhabis crimes and mass-killing has filled the air throughout the region. This confession also comes as an implicit admission that their project in Syria and Iraq has failed and that ISIS defeat would open the way for the rise of new powers in the region and the world. Russia, China and Iran are now the rising powers defying the unilateral global hegemony and trying to usher in a multipolar world.
The illusion cherished by those who might be drifted with Bin Salman’s weasel words that Wahhabism might be modernized or reformed, is a mere illusion that no sane person would cherish or conceive. As Alastair Crooke has put it: As long as the basic principle of Wahhabism is that you have to comply with and believe what we tell you, or you will be killed, there is no chance for such a doctrine to be benign. In fact, there is no way to co-exist with or to be tolerant with cancer. Cancerous tumor must be excised. To do so, we can not rely on the hypocrites in some western countries who are receiving fat checks for their own corporations in exchange for their silence about the crimes of Wahhabism from which they are milking sustainable benefits for survival and on which they rely in eliminating their rivals and competitors.
The battle with Wahhabism is an intellectual, cultural and enlightenment one. It should be run by the State through direct plans of action and close supervision to oversee the activities of mosques and to scrutinize the content of the religious discourse. The activities and the operations of charitable societies should also be put under scrutiny, since some of them havesometimes been used as a conduit to finance terrorism in Syria and other countries. Instead of helping people and lifting them from misery to be rehabilitated as constructive contributors to own societies and countries, some of these charities have exploited the need of poor people and turned them into ideological subordinates to their funders.
A renaissance cultural, educational and enlightening project is needed now more than ever to defeat ignorance with science, knowledge and awareness. Transparency is also needed to deal with all issues at stake. A deep and calm national dialogue should be run by concerned institutions in order to counter any potentially suspicious Takfiri ideaor drive that uses religions for sinister criminal ends.
Mohammad bin Salman’s admission is publicly available for all those interested to refer to. He overtly acknowledges that Wahhabism is the poisoned dagger of the United States. Such a poisoned dagger can be thwarted and turned futile in the future only through enlightenment, education, culture, critical thinking, and dissemination of noble ethics as a standard practice and as an observed civilized behavior. We need to have respect of law, instead of religious preaching. We need to care for the content rather than the appearance. In as much as this applies to the enlightening religious discourse, it equally applies to the political discourse.
Translated from Arabic into English by Syrianfacts. The article was posted for the first time on Thursday, March 29, 2018.